Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
's story is set in a world filled with mythical creatures that seem hell bent on causing chaos wherever they go. The most feared and powerful of these creatures are dragons. These massive beasts seem to appear out of nowhere and leave a wake of havoc in their path. When the game's story starts, you will find yourself in a small fishing village, and among the first victims of a new dragon attack. When your character actually stands up to the beast, it brands you and challenges you to get better and stronger if you truly wish to face it in real battle.
With this branding, you become the newest member of a strange set of heroes known as Arisen. These fighters are rare and it seems that knowledge of them and their purpose is mostly lost to history. One thing seems to be clear though, they are tied to a strange race of people that come from another dimension. These people, Pawns, enter the world through strange stones and they have very little will of their own. While they can be used to help people around them, it seems their primary purpose is to help and fight alongside Arisen.
As you progress in your story, you will not only learn more about what it means to be Arisen, but you will also start to uncover some of the mystery behind the Pawns as well. While these Pawns add an interesting squad-based combat element to the game, they also act as a fairly unique form of multiplayer. You see, while these Pawns are completely A.I.-controlled, they are the creations of other Dragon's Dogma players. Similarly, your own Pawn will end up being picked up and used by other players. Once a Pawn is released and returned to its user, it will bring with it experience, currency and often a gift.
As for your character, you can choose between one of several classes that range from magic users, to fighters, to rangers, and eventually you can expand into hybrid classes that will take on traits from more than one type. With each vocation, you will unlock a variety of attacks and you will also find yourself constantly hunting for the next best piece of equipment.
While I found the setting of Dragon's Dogma expansive and impressive, I did find that this led to a good bit of directionless wandering and backtracking. The sheer amount of side quests this game offers is outstanding, even if a good chunk of them are simply to kill some number of enemies. Unfortunately, there really isn't anything separating your side quests from your main story quests, so while the game is very helpful in telling you where to go when you've got a quest selected, the more important quests tend to get lost in the clutter that is your Quest List. As a result, I found myself going off in a lot of different directions without progressing the overall plot until I happened to figure out which quest was the one that really mattered. While having a ton of side quests is good, not being able to focus on the main story when I wanted to left me feeling like I wasn't making any real traction on more than one occasion.